It is so hot in Mombasa right now, cold drinks and cool showers are de rigueur. Most days I am awake by 7am (5.30am when I am doing my running training – more about that when I have completed the program in a few weeks) when the heat has not yet managed to stifle the life out of me and I can just about manage a hot cup of tea. By 10am however, when I would usually have another cup of tea I am gasping for something very cool, refreshing, and satisfying enough to tide me over until lunchtime. Something more interesting than water and less indulgent than ice-cream. A fresh juice, iced tea or a lassi/smoothie usually hit the spot. A lassi is an Indian yogurt based salty or sweet drink. The salty version (mine and my dad’s favourite) usually contains yogurt, water, salt, black pepper and a little roasted cumin, at the very least. The most popular sweet version is the mango lassi, containing yogurt, mango, milk and added sugar, much like a smoothie. Smoothies contain a combination of fruit (fresh or frozen), juice, yogurt, and milk (dairy, soya, almond, rice, coconut) as a base to which other ingredients such as protein powders, spinach/kale (indeed), peanut butter, tofu, seeds, nuts, flavourings and sweeteners can be added. The mind boggles at the various permutations involved in smoothie making, there are even people who claim to have cracked the recipe for the perfect ratio of ingredients in a smoothie – I applaud them for their commitment (no, life is not too short to spend time creating beautiful recipes)!
When out walking with a friend the other day, she told me how her 6-year-old daughter planned to make a banana smoothie for a school competition and we started talking about the various ingredients she could put in it and it got me thinking about how I could put an Indian twist on it. This past Saturday, I had a delicious banana smoothie at a coffee shop when out with my girlfriends – it was ice-cold and not too sweet – just how I like it. Clearly, the universe wants me to make a banana smoothie/lassi. There was a very ripe mango in the fruit basket staring at me, so I added that too. Even though there is almost twice as much mango as banana, banana is still the dominant taste – it is a very strong-tasting fruit. Bear that in mind when blending with other flavours. Easy peasy.
Banana Mango Lassi/Smoothie
Serves 4 moderate portions (about 220ml each)
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
1 medium ripe banana (approximately 120g – weight of the flesh)
1 medium ripe mango (approximately 200g – weight of the flesh)
1 cup (240ml) low-fat yogurt
1 cup (250ml) semi-skimmed milk (soya, rice, almond milk will also work)
2 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed to a powder
Half a teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons honey
6 almonds, slivered for garnish
6 large ice-cubes or crushed ice (to make it as cold as possible, omit if in cooler climes and add a little more milk)
Place all the ingredients except the almonds in a blender and whizz until smooth. Have a taste and adjust as you see fit. Garnish with the almonds before serving. Cinnamon or saffron would also work here instead of cardamom (1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon or a few strands of saffron crushed in a tablespoon of warm milk before being added to the blender)
Experiment to your heart’s content with other fruit combinations and optional extras, trying to keep it as healthy as possible.
Per serving: Calories 159, Protein 6g, Carbohydrate 29g, Sugars 24g, Fat 3g, Saturates 2g, Fibre 2g. A good source of Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium and Phosphorus.